Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I consoled myself with rudimentary thoughts

Bill Callahan (née Smog) is somehow able to craft music that sounds simultaneously compulsively arranged and don't-give-a-shit slapdash, complexly orchestrated and barebones, subtle and epic. As Callahan speak-sings thought-up-just-now lyrics like "America! What a Navy! What an Army! What an Air Force! What a Marines! America!" (exclamation points included on the lyric sheet), his backing band sounds like they're in a clinically sterile room crafting as precise and crisp a rhythm as possible. And as the album fades out with beautiful, praise-band piano, Callahan just sings the catalog number of the album (DC450). Granted, he makes it sound like country-gospel, but it's still just near-meaningless letters and numbers. I feel like this is the sound of a musician playing hard to get. Craft a beautiful album for your listeners, but give them just enough emotion to hook them, and then fill the rest with aloofness and inside jokes so they feel like if only they could work just a little harder, they'll be let into the album's magical little lyrical world. But this makes the album electrifying. Playing hard to get creates obsession, and this album definitely locked in a spot on my best-of-2011 list last year. And, in fact, is all I've really listened to for the last week. And I suspect it'll pop up fairly frequently in the future. Reveal your secrets, Bill Callahan. Love us like we love you.

Feel free to pick it up at the record label's site, or on Amazon.


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